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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Tuesday, April 17.

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella. Photo by Johan Persson
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella. Photo by Johan Persson

Take a classic story, mix it with a totally original concept and you have Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella.

This dramatic and gritty retelling of the much-loved tale is compelling, absorbing and simply brilliant.

A quirky take on the enchanted love story, Bourne’s Cinderella is set during the London Blitz in 1940, using Prokofiev’s dazzling score.

Forget mice, pumpkins and princes – swap them for pilots, bombs and air-raid sirens.

It’s a brave move, but one that works.

Bourne explains: ‘I was intrigued to hear that Prokofiev had actually written the score during the Second World War, and this got me thinking. Was this dark period in our history somehow captured within the music? I felt it was and the more I delved into the Cinderella story, it seemed to work so well in the wartime setting.

‘Darkly romantic in tone, it speaks of a period when time was everything, love was found and lost suddenly and the world danced as if there was no tomorrow.’

Speaking of the dancing – Cinderella isn’t your classic ballet. Instead, Bourne’s production has more of a contemporary feel to it. And the routines are stunning and executed perfectly.

The shining light was Cinderella herself, played by Ashley Shaw, whose performance was as sparkling as her dress, while Andrew Monaghan, who played her lover, Harry, The Pilot, was in equally top form.

Liam Mower was enchanting as The Angel – or the Fairy Godmother from the classic tale – and Madelaine Brennan was delightfully nasty as Sybil, the Stepmother.

All of this was brought to life by the impressive staging and lighting. The sets are magnificent, capturing the spirit, drama and tragedy of London in the Blitz.

No expense is spared, with explosions, collapsing buildings, video footage and even a moving train.

The wartime feel was captured beautifully in the second act, set in the famous Café de Paris, in London, which was badly bombed by the Nazis.

It epitomised the spirit of the show – powerful, touching and emotional.

Bourne is world-renowned for his vision and choreography, and he has excelled once again. This version of Cinderella needs to be seen to be believed.

Cinderella is running at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal until Saturday, April 28, and tickets are priced from £17.50.

The recommended age is 5+. The performance contains strobes/flashing lights.